A trademark is often an important investment in protecting the intellectual property of your business.
Obtaining a trademark involves five steps:
Search for Conflicting Trademarks
Your first step is to make sure there are not any conflicting trademarks. You should search on the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s website to see if there are any conflicting trademarks that have already been registered. Then work with an attorney to run a more comprehensive search. Even if a trademark has not been registered, it could still have superior intellectual property rights over yours if it was being used prior to your trademark.
In addition, if the USPTO rejects your application due to a conflict with an existing mark, filing fees will not be refunded.
Start an Application
Once you have confirmed there are no conflicting trademarks, you will need to complete a trademark application. You will need the following dates to complete the application:
- Date of first use of trademark in commerce anywhere
- Date of first use in interstate or foreign commerce
Prove Your Trademark
The trademark application also requires a trademark “specimen,” which shows the trademark being used in commerce in the class of goods or services for which you are applying for the trademark.
Select Its Class of Goods/Services
You will need to select the class of goods or services you would like to register the trademark.
You should be strategic in selecting the class of goods or services to register the trademark, as there is an additional filing fee for each class of goods or services in which you register the trademark.
Include a Contact Address
Finally, you will need to include a contact address for the trademark registration.
It is important to remember that anyone can view this address if they search for the trademark on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website once the trademark application has been filed.
If you have any questions or would like help in obtaining a trademark for your business, contact your current lawyer — or feel free to reach out to my law group at (415) 633-6841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: This article discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice in any respect. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Bend Law Group, PC expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this article.
Doug Bend is the principal of Bend Law Group, PC, a law firm focused on small businesses and startups. He is also the General Counsel for Modify Industries, Inc. and tIFc LLC and a Legal Mentor in The Hub Ventures Program.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.